Editor's note: This story has been changed to clarify the expected spread started with a card party, based on an interview with one of the infected residents.
ANGLETON — Three probable cases reported Saturday afternoon — and a dozen infections in all — have been linked to a May 8 card party, county officials said Saturday evening.
“The two Sweeny cases and the case in West Columbia are the 10th, 11th and 12th cases tied to a West of the Brazos (card) party,” County Judge Matt Sebesta said. “One of those cases is an employee at Country Village nursing home in Angleton.”
The infected also include the Sweeny boy younger than 10 whose case was announced earlier Saturday. The other Sweeny case is a man in his 30s; the West Columbia case is woman in her 60s.
The party took place at a private home in West Columbia, Sebesta said.
The Country Village employee has not been at work since the gathering, so the virus has not entered the nursing facility, Sebesta said.
“I personally spoke to the owner of Country Village,” he said. “It’s been nine days since that employee has been at work, so that is a very fortunate thing.”
There are multiple protocols in place — particularly for a nursing home, which cares for the most vulnerable population — and the employee will have to receive clearance before being allowed to return to work, Sebesta said.
The recent outbreak that’s occurred west of the Brazos has been tied to the “ill-advised” card party, he said. While Sebesta does not know how many people were involved, 12 people are now sick because of it, he said.
“A couple of the recent cases in Angleton have been linked to it as well,” he said. “It’s been disheartening over the last couple of days that with these case numbers growing, it’s — our epidemiologists are doing contact tracing — the number of cases that are coming out of that event.”
Another update Sebesta shared is the Freeport man whose case was reported “confirmed” today has died from COVID-19, bringing the county’s total number of deaths to 10.
“Our heart goes out to anybody who suffers a death,” Sebesta said. “It’s just unfortunate to lose another member of the Brazoria County family.”
The man’s case is not related to the poker party, he said.
A very early Brazoria County case of COVID-19 was linked to that person having gone to a ski lodge in Idaho, where multiple people got sick. That came before the knowledge of the virus and social distancing measures that are in place now — and still need to be observed, Sebesta said.
“I know people are stir crazy and wanna get together and do things, but I think getting together to do things where you’re all sitting next to one another and handling cards and chips and whatever that everybody is touching is probably not a wise thing right now,” Sebesta said. “People just need to still do the things they need to do to prevent the spread of this virus. It’s simple.”
Probable cases are people who are exhibiting COVID symptoms and are linked to others who are confirmed to have been infected by the novel coronavirus.
More information from the Texas Department of State Health Services about the definition of “probable” cases can be found at www.brazoriacountytx.gov/DSHSCaseDef.
County officials also announced four recoveries and three confirmed new cases Saturday, one of which is a man in his 40s confined to Rosharon’s Darrington Unit. A Pearland woman in her 60s and a Freeport man at least 80 years old make up the rest of Saturday’s confirmed new cases.
With the addition of the new numbers, Brazoria County now has a total of 727 reported cases, 331 of which are confirmed and 380 of which have recovered. Nine people have died from COVID-19, and 7 cases remain listed as probable.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.